Doing Business In China: How to Act Like a Local

Recently, I was asked how foreigners can “act like a local” while doing business in China. That’s a really good question, and I think the foundation is built on cultural understanding.

There are so many ways that you can make people more comfortable in any situation. If you speak the language, one way that I have found very effective is to use a saying that only a very local person would know in a conversation. People will often stop in their tracks. It changes their thinking about you from “he’s an outsider” to “maybe this guy is didao,” he knows his stuff.

Another way to “act like a local” is simply to do your research on the culture as a whole, and then observe those around you to get a better understanding of how things are REALLY done. For example, when I’m out with Chinese, I don’t follow typical American customs; I’ll serve the way they serve as a sign of respect. Be open and willing to learn.

And when all else fails, humor is the universal language. I’ve been in China for 20+ years, yet it never fails that when I’m in a taxi they’ll ask where I come from. So of course, I tell them. But then I ask, “And you?” This usually gets a laugh, but then I get to learn about their story and their home town.

#China #Mandarin #Local